Author Topic: Nausea by Jean-Paul Sartre  (Read 1050 times)

Herbert Derp

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Nausea by Jean-Paul Sartre
« on: April 30, 2017, 04:48:01 AM »
Although Nausea is definitely first and foremost a philosophical novel about existentialism, I think it also has quite a bit to do with financial independence. The main character, Antoine, is thirty years old and financially independent, but ironically this seems to have greatly contributed to his isolation and alienation from society. The book details Antoine's struggle to find meaning in his life, and his outlook on the world and existence in general.

A great read, and a good cautionary tale of what not to do when you are FIRE. I highly recommend it if you're into existentialism. Anyone else read this?

Here's an excerpt from the book where Antoine discusses the details of his FIRE:
Quote from: Antoine Roquentin
The train leaves in three-quarters of an hour.

I count my money to pass the time.

Twelve hundred francs a month isn't enormous. But if I hold myself back a little it should be
enough. A room for 300 francs, 15 francs a day for food: that leaves 450 francs for petty cash,
laundry, and movies. I won't need underwear or clothes for a long while. Both my suits are clean, even
though they shine at the elbows a little: they'll last me three or four years if I take care of them.

Good God! Is it I who is going to lead this mushroom existence? What will I do all day long? I'll
take walks. I'll sit on a folding chair in the Tuileries—or rather on a bench, out of economy. I'll read in
the libraries. And then what? A movie once a week. And then what? Can I smoke a Voltigeur on
Sunday? Shall I play croquet with the retired old men in the Luxembourg? Thirty years old! I pity
myself. There are times when I wonder if it wouldn't be better to spend all my 300,000 francs in one
year—and after that . . . But what good would that do me? New clothes? Women? Travel? I've had all
that and now it's over, I don't feel like it any more: for what I'd get out of it! A year from now I'd find
myself as empty as I am today, without even a memory, and a coward facing death.

Thirty years! And 14,400 francs in the bank. Coupons to cash every month. Yet I'm not an old
man! Let them give me something to do, no matter what ... I'd better think about something else,
because I'm playing a comedy now. I know very well that I don't want to do anything: to do something
is to create existence—and there's quite enough existence as it is.


This book is in the public domain. You can find a PDF here.

P.S. the book takes place in 1932. Anyone care to calculate how much money Antoine has in 2017 dollars? It seems like an ERE budget. I tried some calculations, and it seems like the value of a 1932 franc is very similar to the value of a 2017 dollar, but I'm not sure if they were correct because there was some strangeness going on with the historical value of the franc.
« Last Edit: April 30, 2017, 05:33:13 AM by Herbert Derp »

lost_in_the_endless_aisle

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Re: Nausea by Jean-Paul Sartre
« Reply #1 on: May 01, 2017, 11:19:16 PM »
I second the recommendation for those interested in existentialism. I remember in particular the description of the jammed Sunday street with churchgoers and cap-tippers, perhaps because it captures so well the absurd banality of many aspects of daily life. The way to highlight that absurdity is via the perspective of an outsider, hence the dark, lonely mood that cuts through many existentialist novels.

Regarding the financial angle on the story, it may well be existentialist turmoil is a first world problem since it is partially born of idleness and lack of motivation for anything in particular (difficult states to attain if just barely scraping by).

cerat0n1a

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Re: Nausea by Jean-Paul Sartre
« Reply #2 on: May 02, 2017, 01:55:25 AM »
I just finished reading "At The Existentialist Café: Freedom, Being, and Apricot Cocktails" by Sarah Bakewell, published earlier this year, which tells the story of J-P Sartre, Simone de Beauvoir, Heidegger, Husserl, Camus and the other existentialists and discusses the ideas at the heart of their philosophy (which changed quite a lot over time). Highly recommend it.